According to a report in the BBC, Freedom of Information (FoI) requests submitted by GMB union, have highlighted health and safety concerns in the warehousing and transportation support industries.
A few of the more serious incidents revealed in the documents included:
- A forklift driver crashed into a steel column at a warehouse almost causing a floor above to collapse
- A worker sustained injuries after being knocked down and wedged under a reversing heavy goods vehicle
- Staff worked in temperatures as low as 3C
- A worker was injured using their hand to remove a jammed label from a conveyor belt
Health and safety statistics show that in 2016-2017, there were 39,000 non-fatal injuries to workers each year (LFS) for the transportation and storage sector in Great Britain:
Additionally, there were 60,000 non-fatal injuries to workers each year (LFS) for the manufacturing sector in Great Britain:
Ways to improve health and safety in warehouses and factories
Whilst injuries have reduced over the last few years, there’s still more that can be done to improve health and safety in warehouses and factories.
Machinery & pedestrians
Steel barrier protection systems are designed to protect walls, doors, machinery, racking and personnel from potential collisions. Westgate’s Easiguard for example can be used internally to define walkways from forklift routes, helping to reduce the likelihood of an accident between a forklift truck and a pedestrian. Pedestrian gates can also be used to define crossings the warehouses to protect pedestrians from vehicles.
Whilst there is no set temperature outlined for employers, the temperature should be “reasonable” and this is typically seen as at least 16°C, or 13°C for work that involves a lot of physical effort. Warehouses can often find it difficult to maintain these temperatures, especially in food manufacturing industries where chilled storage is necessary. With specific storage temperatures to adhere to, employers can often find they are not only chilling food but the entire warehouse. Westgate’s Flexiwall can be used to enclose a specific area due to the heavy duty thermal options available. By enclosing the chilled food area away from the rest of the working warehouse, it is possible to achieve a comfortable temperature level for employees.
Slips, trips & falls
With slips, trips and falls making up a large portion of non-fatal accidents, it’s an important issue to address. The majority of slips, trips and falls are completely avoidable. Good housekeeping can go a long way in making a busy work environment, such as a warehouse, safe. Everything from products and tools, to health and safety equipment and forklift trucks should have their own place. If you need to, segregate storage areas with hoarding to keep things separate, tidy and out of the way.
Adequate lighting within facilities is essential to achieve optimum visibility. Poor lighting in the workplace is associated with an increase in accidents and high risk areas include walkways, staircases, ramps, hallways, basements, construction areas and dock areas.
Spills should also be cleaned up asap and in the meantime, hazard warnings, such as wet floor signs, put in place.